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'There's a cycling agenda here' - debate hots up ahead of planning meeting on Dublin's proposed civic plaza

The proposed College Green plaza has raised some businesses’ hackles.

1 The proposed College Green plaza, viewed from Trinity College Source: Dublin City Council

HEATED EXCHANGES HAVE taken place ahead of a crucial hearing concerning the planned creation of a pedestrianised plaza in Dublin city centre.

The planned €10 million College Green plaza would ban all cars from that section of the city, with curtailments placed on buses and taxis.

An Bord Pleanála will hold the hearing later today after a number of objections from vested interests in the locality were heard.

Speaking on RTÉ Morning Ireland today, Adrian Cummins of the Restaurant Association of Ireland and Dublin city Green Party councillor Ciaran Cuffe clashed as to what the new plaza will mean and what its effects will be.

Cummins claimed that “there’s a cycling agenda on Dublin City Council”, and stated that the businesses he represents are “deeply, deeply concerned” over the proposals.

Businesses such as Brown Thomas and the Merrion Hotel have voiced their objections to the plans.

‘Bad for business’

“Many members feel this will be bad for business,” said Cummins. “These are rate payers who contribute a huge amount to the council and to the city centre.”

He said that those businesses are “still not being consulted, and have had to go to An Bord Pleanála to put their objections to the board”.

“Dublin City Council have failed businesses with regard to this proposal. Our members are telling us that they feel this plan will remove all taxis and cars from the area which will have a huge impact on business. They’re very, very fearful.”

In responses, Cuffe said that the point of the plan “is to make it easier to get to and from the heart of Dublin, and to diminish the bottleneck seen at College Green”.

“In return we’re going to get an amazing, child-friendly civic space, with trees and a fountain, perhaps an ice rink in winter,” he said. He said that if you look at other major cities across Europe, like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, “they’ve either got this kind of space, or they’re planning it”.

He denied that businesses in the area hadn’t been consulted. “We’ve had three consultations. The vast majority support the plaza and see it as a positive step for Dublin,” he said.

“To be fair, there is a cycling agenda going on at the moment, that’s what businesses and rate payers are hearing,” Cummins said in a response. “I think Ciaran is a huge advocate for cycling, I don’t think he’s an advocate for businesses though. I don’t think he’s listening to the concerns across the city centre.”

‘Cycling agenda’

Footfall is down considerably,  and Dublin City Council haven’t consulted with the Restaurant Association of Ireland, we were never invited to any consultations, I know that for a fact.

“We are deeply, deeply concerned that there’s a cycling agenda going on at Dublin City Council, and at a very high level.”

Cuffe responded that the only agenda he has “is a getting more people into the city of Dublin agenda”, adding that he is “interested in a city that is thriving economically and environmentally”.

“Buses will still be allowed to run north and south, as will trams, as will taxis other than during the morning peak, and all car parks are open for business,” he said.

This is about giving some breathing space back to the heart of the city.

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